The Story of the Phoque

Phoque is the tragically hilarious French word for seal.

The story of IFFTP takes place in Dijon, Burgundy, France. It began in 2010 when, here for a language class and for supposedly only 2 weeks, I fell in love with an awkward Frenchie and his home country and tossed everything back home to stay here as long as possible.

One of my greatest challenges here in France is that I'm crazy about animal rights: I fight furtively to save the whale, end animal abuse, and stop the seal clubbing in Canada.  

I arrived in France a vegetarian. When I was blissfully in a blind and idiotic relationship with B, the Frenchie listed above, one of my pleasant warm French mornings in a street side cafe was ruined when he casually mentioned his family's duck farm.

"Oh how nice!" I said in terrible French. "What kind of duck farm?" I happily envisioned the sweet animals wagging their tails contentedly in the French countryside as I took a sip of orange juice.

"Oh it iz very good!" says B. "We iz making zee foie gras!"

I spew orange juice all of the table but don't have the language facilities to explain why. Oh nothing serious. Only that I have been irreparably scarred by videos of the horrendous cruelty of fois gras and have donated a small fortune to put an end to it. What I had been doing just the very night before with B was hardly utile to that effort.

B and most French folks can't seem to understand my sympathy for animals. I try to explain the horrors of things like fois gras, seal clubbing, and  starving bengal tigers in Chinese zoos. I try to explain that I believe animals are emotional and precious creatures; that we, as the self assumed dominate race on Earth, have a responsibility to be benevolent and respectful caretakers to all life. But I don't speak French. It doesnt go over well.

Now, when introduced to friends and family, it is usually:
"..yes zees iz my friend from to Hawaii- she does not smoke, she iz vegetarian, and she fights for the phoque."


In the two years that I've been keeping IFFTP, I've broken contact with B and been in and out of several turbulent French love affairs. Now, I'm settled and am learning slowly the ways of the domestic relationship with Alban: formally known as "TMI" on IFFTP. Each day is filled with new challenges linguistically, nutritionally, and emotionally, and what I learn from each new obstacle or misadventure I share here. 

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